Again, the Republic of Benin has followed the new trend among African countries like Uganda and Zambia by taxing its citizens for using the internet.
Beninese will now have to pay 5 CFA francs ($0.008) per megabyte consumed using internet and social media apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter and 5% levy on texting and calls in addition to already existing taxes.
The law which was passed late August has been heavily condemned in the country, with citizens calling the countries officials to cancel the levy with the hashtag #Taxepamesmo (“Don’t tax my megabytes”).
Currently, a petition against the levy on Change.org has gathered at least 7,000 signatures since it was passed five days ago.
Digital-rights advocates have also registered their displeasure over the new law, saying these measures are part of moves to silence critics and the vibrant socio-political, cultural, and economic conversations taking place online.
The group further stressed that, the adoptions of these taxes could have a costly impact not just on democracy and social cohesion, but on economic growth, innovation, and net neutrality.
Nigerian company, Paradigm Initiative has also expressed it fear about the tax law, saying that it is only a matter of time before the Nigerian government joins Uganda and Zambia and start levying over-the-top media services like Facebook and Telegram that deliver content on the internet.
The increased fees will not only burden the poorest consumers and widen the digital divide, but they will also be “disastrous” for the nation’s nascent digital economy, says Internet Sans Frontiéres’ executive director, Julie Owono.
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